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April 28, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011 - No comments

Forging News (Part four): The News Media's Misrepresentation of the Art Criminal

by Katherine Ogden, ARCA Class Alum 2009

Where Do We Go From Here?

All of this discussion brings us back to our original quandary - how does the way in which the news media presents art crime criminals affect art crime as a whole? The main thing we need to begin to focus on is the fact that there is little to no representational of real art crime criminals in the news media. This is a problem because the news media is allowing, and in some cases encouraging, the idea of the sexy/glamorous art thief, the Thomas Crown or Dr. No character, which is not the reality. Art crimes are committed by all sorts of people, and excepting a few examples the majority of known art crime criminals are not the attractive, glamorous types from the movies. These crime criminals are the people that you avoid in bars and teach your kids not to talk to on the streets. More and more the link between art crime and organized crime is being strengthened which only makes the need to understand and accurately report on art crime that much more important.

Joseph Wiseman as "Dr. Julius No"
 in the 1962 James Bond movie "Dr. No"
Additionally, only when the professionals associated with art crime begin to understand that it is a larger problem than a millionaire missing a pretty picture or a museum missing a sculpture will law enforcement accurately file reports on art crime and ultimately realize that art crime has been funding such universally deplorable crimes as arms trade, drug trade and organized crime. One of the best ways to accomplish this would be for news media outlets to begin to report on the actual criminals behind these crimes and the subsequent sentencing of these criminals. Once the faces of these ordinary criminals are put in the public arena, the illusion of the sexy art crime criminal can begin to be destroyed, and then the public can understand that art crime needs to be taken just as seriously as other crimes.

Finally if Connor were to rob a bank tomorrow for 1.1 million dollars, every news media outlet in the United States and quite possibly in the entire world would broadcast his picture. So why is it the case that if he were to steal a Vermeer worth more than 1.1 million dollars no one would see his face? That is where the problem lies, and it is only through efforts by the media and art professions to put a “face” on art crime criminals that we will see a more realistic view of the individuals who take part in such crimes.

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